Dealing with Behavioural Standardization!

In application of statistics such as modeling, standardization is defined as adjusting different values to a common scale; normalization of scores – i.e. aligning distributions to a normal distribution – is a typical standardization process. From an organizational perspective, a traditional Fordist system of mass production can define a standardization process; in other words, uniformizing tasks. I would like to dedicate this post to another type of standardization process, a phenomenon that can be observed in most large organization, the behavioral standardization. 


A wrong corporate culture - as defined by the Deal and Kennedy culture framework - is not optimal to support the organization’s activities; a potential outcome of an inadequate culture can be inciting employees to adopt smooth attitudes in line with their workplace, avoiding to put themselves at risk by expressing their opinion. Behavioral standardization is often a creeping phenomenon; there is not necessarily a stated desire coming from the employee or derived from the working environment to modify the employee attitude, but some tricks exist to fight behavioral standardization and to avoid falling into this trap:

  • Embrace opinions and keep interpreting advices: Colleagues’ opinions are valuable because you do keep your free will at the end; but remain vigilant with recommendations, particularly those concerning behavioral aspects; bear in mind that people may be tempted that you behave as they would do;
  • Find a model, but do not mimic it: It can be constructive to copying some behaviors or attitudes of people that one takes as example; but do never mimic that person. Bear in mind that the success of one person depends on a wide spectrum of criteria (e.g. academic and professional experiences, seniority, luck, etc.), only your own traits can make you successful;
  • Keep in mind that internal assessments are subjective: Internal assessments are originally made to improve your skills and competencies; this exercise can nevertheless easily derive to make you come into a shape. In my opinion, those assessments are valuable for quantitative assessments - e.g. the quantity and the quality of the work you have been through - not for qualitative ones; this is then your responsibility to interpret those assessments.

Employees not afraid of expressing their opinions in a constructive way are those that create a tangible added value for any organization. If you have been hired for a role, this is because your employer is convinced that you can perform the job; but you really can distinguish yourself from the competition by bringing new ideas an implementing them, and this can only be performed through your own personality. While remaining respectful and humble, do never try to normalize your traits, this is what really makes you unique.

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